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U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm - News

FHWA 11-09Contact: Doug Hecox
Jonathan Mueller
Tuesday, April 7, 2009Tel.: (202) 366-0660

U.S. Transportation Secretary Announces 17 Percent Drop in Work Zone Fatalities and Injuries; Cautions Motorists to Drive Safely During Busiest Road Work Season in Years
Nation's Leaders Kick Off Tenth Annual 'National Work Zone Awareness Week'

WASHINGTON - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a 17 percent drop in work zone fatalities and injuries as National Work Zone Awareness Week kicked off. The week was kicked off by national highway safety leaders at a ceremony today near the nation's capital.

"I am encouraged by the decrease in fatalities and injuries," Secretary LaHood said. "With $27billion in economic recovery funds fueling thousands of highway construction and repair projects nationwide drivers must be more careful than ever."

Work zone fatalities and injuries have fallen over the last ten years. The 17 percent drop in 2007, the most recent year for which data are available, represents the sharpest single-year percentage decline since the week's inception. This continues a multi-year trend of increasingly safe roads. There were 835 fatalities in 2007, down from 1,004 fatalities in 2006.

Four of every five victims in a work zone crash are motorists, not highway workers as is commonly believed.

The event, which highlighted the progress made over the last decade, was held only yards away from the Humpback Bridge Replacement Project on the George Washington Parkway - one of the East Coast's most congested commuter corridors.

The National Work Zone Awareness Week is a national campaign conducted at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway construction sites. It is observed nationally by state, local and federal transportation officials the first week of April, which coincides with the start of highway construction season.

For more information on National Work Zone Awareness Week, visit http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/wz_awareness.htm.

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